Saturday, June 2

Barnes & Noble: Replacing the word "kindle" with "nook"

word substitution, ebook

I discover the most interesting stories over at the Passive Voice Blog!

Today Passive Guy posted an article, Nookd, about how Philip over at the Ocracoke Island Journal discovered that all the occurrences of the word "kindle" had been replaced with the word "nook" in the version of War and Peace he had bought from the Barnes & Noble's Nook Store. He writes: 
As I was reading, I came across this sentence: "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern...." Thinking this was simply a glitch in the software, I ignored the intrusive word and continued reading. Some pages later I encountered the rogue word again. With my third encounter I decided to retrieve my hard cover book and find the original (well, the translated) text.

For the sentence above I discovered this genuine translation: "It was as if a light had been kindled in a carved and painted lantern...."

Someone at Barnes and Noble (a twenty year old employee? or maybe the CEO?) had substituted every incidence of "kindled" with "Nookd!" 
PG remarked that this is the second instance he has come across where the word "kindle" has been replaced with "nook" in a book downloaded from the Nook store.

I wonder, what do you all think about this? As a corporate policy it seems extremely foolhardy. These things always leave a paper trail. Further, even if there is no longer a copyright on the book, it is still extremely bad form to make that kind of a change. In my view, it amounts to vandalism of a classic work of art.

Although the new digital medium has allowed these kind of shenanigans (love that word!), it is to be expected, perhaps, that the road will contain a few potholes, especially in the beginning.



  1. Hilarious. I saw this post too and I couldn't help but wonder about the legality of the whole thing. I presume it's a sticky issue with a traditional publisher, because the author has few rights to defend his/her work.

    I wonder if these line-edits can be done to Indie books, too?

    1. Good question Jamie, I don't know but I would imagine so. When an author uploads his book he uploads an electronic file, and I doubt it has been made read-only.

      It would be interesting to have a character in my next book say something like, "I love my Kindle" or even "I love kindling fire" and see what happens. (Although I'll probably be enrolling the book in Kindle Select so it will never be in the Nook store.)

    2. That would be a fun experiment. Unfortunately I'm all tied up in Select also. Maybe later in the year. If things don't pick up at Amazon soon I might pull out anyway.


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